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New Cluster for Statistical Genetics Research at the Wellcome Trust Centre

The WTCHG new cluster is enabling research groups to analyse the human genome at much faster speeds

The WTCHG new cluster is enabling research groups to analyse the human genome at much faster speeds

We have recently worked with The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University of Oxford to integrate a new server cluster.

The new cluster is supporting the statistical genetics research of 25 groups and more than 100 researchers, enabling them to analyse the human genome at much faster speeds. With sophisticated analytical techniques, they are working out similarities and differences in the genetic make-up of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The cluster is built using a Fujitsu high-performance cluster with Mellanox InfiniBand and DataDirect Networks storage systems. There is a 2.6x performance increase over the new cluster’s predecessor built in 2011. It has 1,728 cores of processing power, up from 912, with 16GB 1866MHz memory per core compared to a maximum of 8GB per core on the older cluster.

The new cluster is working alongside a second production cluster. Both clusters share a common Mellanox FDR InfiniBand network that links the compute nodes to a DDN GRIDScaler SFA12K storage system whose controllers can read block data at 20GB/s. This speed is essential for keeping the cluster at maximum usage and consistently fed with genomic data.

WTCHG designed the high-performance cluster and big data storage system in partnership with OCF. We also provided the WTCHG team with training on the new system.

Dr Robert Esnouf, Head of the Research Computing Core at the WTCHG told me that: “OCF worked with us to design a high-specification cluster and storage system that met our needs; they then delivered it and integrated it on time and to budget. In fact, the OCF-Fujitsu-Mellanox-DDN package was the clear winner from almost all perspectives – being based on GPFS, to which we were already committed; winning price / performance combination, low power consumption, fast I/O and simplicity of installation. We even managed to afford a pair of additional cluster nodes with 2TB real memory each for really complex jobs – also through OCF-Fujitsu!”

We are really thrilled to be working with The Wellcome Trust Centre on this rewarding project. The new cluster is also propelling the WTCHG’s electron microscopy research into World league status and we will continue to support the Centre in any future HPC projects.